Memorable Manitobans: Doris Boyce Saunders (1901-2003)
Born at Winnipeg on 16 November 1901, she graduated from Kelvin High School in 1917 and entered the Faculty of Arts at the University of Manitoba holding the Sir James Aikins Scholarship in English; she graduated in 1921 with the Gold Medal in both English and Philosophy. She was an early member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority. Following a year of study in England, she received a First Class Professional Certificate and taught in a rural consolidated school.
From 1923 to 1925, she taught at Machray Junior High and Kelvin High School while working on her thesis. She received her Masters Degree in English from the University of Manitoba in 1925. For the next year, she studied at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford on a Canadian Federation of University Women’s Traveling Fellowship. She had intended to take a PhD but was informed upon her arrival that Oxford did not approve of doctoral degrees for women, so she enrolled in a Bachelor of Letters program, completing her thesis on the life of Dr. Johnson. She was finally awarded the degree in 1936 and it was upgraded to a Masters Degree in 1979. The University of British Columbia awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1957, and the University of Manitoba did likewise in 1994.
In 1928, she became the first woman to be appointed to the Department of English at the University of Manitoba. She was the Dean of Junior Women from 1933 to 1945. She became an Assistant Professor in 1941 and a full Professor in 1959, the first woman in the Faculty of Arts to hold this position. Dr. Saunders was appointed Registrar of the new University College from 1964 until her retirement in 1968. She was an early member of the University Women’s Club, serving on many committees and becoming President (1943-1945) of the local chapter as well as President of the Canadian Federation. She was a member of St George’s Anglican Church.
She died on 3 May 2003 at the age of 101.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 7 May 2003.
“They will never be forgotten,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 2003, pages A6-7.
This page was prepared by Keith Davies Jones and Gwyneth Jones.
Page revised: 27 June 2015
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